Wendy Cope’s most recent collection, her first since Serious Concerns in 1992, extends her concern with the comedy of the examined life (‘the way we have been, the way we sometimes are’), and imagines those adjustments to the ordinary which would fulfil our futures, or allow us to realize the golden age of five minutes ago, or weigh the ‘out there’ of the present moment, where what is in sight is also out of reach. These are poems of well-tempered yearning, conditional idylls which sing in praise of lying fallow, the creativity of daydream, the yeast of boredom, the truths of intermediacy. Wendy Cope’s formal tact is alertly present – in triolets, rondeaux, villanelles, squibs, epigrams – small forms whose power to disarm goes hand in hand with her characteristically tart ripostes to the way things (usually) are. This collection extends the variousness of her occasions.
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